Did You Know? Colors of New York Fire Hydrants Explained
The annual burn ban is still in effect in New York, and while the focus remains on fire safety, it's a great time to review what the color of your local fire hydrant is telling you.
If you look at children's books, cartoons, or even picture one in your head, fire hydrants are red. The surprising truth is that not only are most public hydrants a completely different color all together, but their differently-colored caps send a message to the fire department.
The National Fire Protection Association and Fire Hydrants
Most hydrant standards, including their color, are set by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). While many cities like Poughkeepsie, NY still have red hydrants (above), the standard color of a hydrant body is called "chrome yellow". Hydrants in Newburgh, NY (below) not only have yellow bodies, but their caps are different colors as well. This is for a very specific reason.
Differently-Colored Fire Hydrants in New York State
The varying colors of fire hydrant caps are referring to the capacity of the water pipes that feed the hydrant. This helps to communicate to firefighters how much water (and how strong of a flow) they can expect when attaching their hoses. The NFPA breaks it down below.
What the Color of a New York Fire Hydrant Means
There are four standard colors for fire hydrant caps: red, orange, green, and blue. A red-capped hydrant has the smallest pipe attachment, while a blue-capped hydrant offers the highest flow of gallons per minute (GPM). Here's how it breaks down:
- Red indicates a water-flow capacity of fewer than 500 GPM
- Orange indicates a water-flow capacity of 500 to 999 GPM.
- Green indicates a water-flow capacity of 1,000 to 1,499 GPM.
- Blue indicates a water-flow capacity of 1,500 or greater GPM.
While these are suggested guidelines, they aren't required by law, and many towns and cities across the country have adopted other colors and color codes. Many hydrants in Beacon, NY, for example, have silver-capped hydrants. As far as hydrant body color, the general rule of thumb is that yellow and white hydrants are connected to public water supplies, while red hydrants are connected to a private water source.